Even though addiction is a common phenomenon in our society, affecting so many of us and our families and communities, there are still many misconceptions about addiction in our mainstream culture. The negative stereotypes surrounding addiction and addicts, coupled with serious confusion and misinformation, cause many people to believe things about addiction that simply aren’t true. As rampant as addiction is, it is still stigmatized, causing people to keep their stories to themselves, which would help make the narrative about addiction more honest and transparent. The dialogue around addiction would be more of a reflection of our actual experiences than the fears people have of addiction.
The common cultural depictions of addicts are of people who are struggling – mentally emotionally, physically, socially, financially. Addiction is associated with homelessness, poverty and criminal behavior. In some circles, it is still associated with people of color. The truth is, addiction does not discriminate, nor is it selective along cultural, socio-economic or ethnic lines. There are plenty of people living with addiction who are financially secure, who can function in their daily lives and who you might never guess are hurting. Addicts come from all religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. They have happy families, hold steady jobs and graduate from college. They have nice homes. They’re model citizens. Addiction exists in every kind of community, in any kind of family.
Sometimes we think of addiction and mental health issues as only affecting the most vulnerable populations – children from broken homes, people who experienced trauma, those of us who didn’t have emotional support growing up. Addiction, however, can affect even seemingly well-adjusted people who came from happy families and had positive upbringings. We can develop addiction even when we had all the necessary resources, support and love growing up.
Addiction is so widespread that its causes are varied. We don’t all develop addiction for the same reasons. We didn’t experience the same factors causing our addiction and mental health issues. Some of us recognize addiction in our families, and we were genetically predisposed to it. Some of us inherited emotional and behavioral patterns from our families that contributed to our addictive patterns, even if no one else in our family struggles with addiction. Some of us are still trying to figure out why and how we became addicts, and we might never know for sure.
Addiction can affect anyone, and no one is necessarily immune to its devastating effects. The more we educate ourselves about the truths of addiction and work to shed the misinformation and stigma, the more people we can help recover.
The community at Riverside Recovery has firsthand experience with addiction and recovery. For us, recovery is personal. Let us help you! Call (800) 871-5440 today.